The use of the phrase "going around" is specified by ICAO Doc 4444 as the phrase to use when we're aborting the landing and heading for

  • another lap in the traffic pattern if we're on a visual or VFR approach, or
  • the appropriate missed approach procedure if we're on an instrument approach

However, in the US, I often hear the pilot saying "going missed" when breaking off an instrument approach. Is this standard phraseology in the US, or another one of those non-standard phrases which have gained footing? The 7110.65 only mentions the instruction "go around" (which incidentally is analogous, traffic pattern if visual, missed approach if on instruments), but doesn't say anything about the appropriate pilot phraseology. I couldn't find any reference in the AIM (chapter 4 section 2) either.

(I also often hear just "missed approach", which I suppose would be appropriate when checking back in with approach, but not with the tower, although feel free to clarify that for me as well)

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    $\begingroup$ FWIW, I always used "missed approach" to say that I was aborting the approach regardless of whom I was addressing. In other words the approach was what I had missed rather than who I was addressing. Also, it was always used in relation to aborting an instrument approach. "Going around" was the phrase for visual usage. Interestingly, at least to me, I never heard "going missed", which makes me wonder if that phraseology has come into vogue only since I retired 15 years ago. $\endgroup$
    – Terry
    Feb 27, 2014 at 8:17
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    $\begingroup$ "Going missed" is slang. The points of standard phraseology have been discussed at length in many places but a key factor is often missed. ATCOs are trained and conditioned to work with the standard phrases. In high stress situations, or perhaps with a lot of traffic, standard phrases which indicate something outside the norm tend to penetrate the noise and register. 99% of the time, a go around is a non-event but there could be situations where a go around could affect safety. Going around" is no harder to say than "going missed" so why short circuit one extra little safety factor? $\endgroup$
    – Simon
    Feb 27, 2014 at 9:19
  • $\begingroup$ The US has no document/order/regulation for proper phraseology by pilots. ATC must follow 7110.65 but there is no analog for pilots. $\endgroup$
    – casey
    Feb 27, 2014 at 12:56
  • $\begingroup$ @Terry: In an instrument approach when aborting when already visual and below minima, would you then call it "going around" or still "missed approach"? (not that there would be much practical difference of course) $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Feb 27, 2014 at 14:45
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    $\begingroup$ @JanHudec I honestly don't have an answer for that. Never had that situation. When giving instrument instruction, I always had the student do a purposeful "missed approach" at the minimums and make that call to the frequency we had been handed off to, which sometimes was the tower and sometimes approach or departure control. In real (as opposed to instructional) conditions, I never had occasion to not land once below minimums. My guess is that, coming off an instrument approach, I would have used "missed approach." $\endgroup$
    – Terry
    Feb 27, 2014 at 22:02

1 Answer 1


According to the Pilot/Controller Glossary (the closest thing to "regulatory" documentation regarding phrases pilots are supposed to use on the radio) there is no GOING MISSED - there is GO AROUND as an ATC instruction (and by analog GOING AROUND as a pilot's response or notification to ATC to inform them the pilot is doing so), which covers both VFR and IFR operations:

Instructions for a pilot to abandon his/her approach to landing. Additional instructions may follow. Unless otherwise advised by ATC, a VFR aircraft or an aircraft conducting visual approach should overfly the runway while climbing to traffic pattern altitude and enter the traffic pattern via the crosswind leg. A pilot on an IFR flight plan making an instrument approach should execute the published missed approach procedure or proceed as instructed by ATC; e.g., “Go around” (additional instructions if required).

(There is also an IFR-specific EXECUTE MISSED APPROACH in there.)

GOING MISSED is not proper/correct phraseology (though much like "tally one" or "got 'em" in place of "traffic in sight" it will generally be understood by ATC - probably with about the same grinding of teeth as the other two phrases get).

Informing ATC (tower or approach) that you are executing a missed approach by simply saying N12345, Missed Approach is correct phraseology however:

a. …
b. A term used by the pilot to inform ATC that he/she is executing the missed approach.
c. …

and is probably what should be used in place of "Going Missed".

  • $\begingroup$ For what it's worth I don't think I've ever heard ATC instruct an IFR flight to just "Go Around" - though I have heard "Go around, make (left/right) traffic", and "Go around, execute missed approach". Presumably they do that to avoid the ambiguity with IFR traffic ("Should I go around and join the active traffic pattern, or should I execute the missed approach procedure and come back?") $\endgroup$
    – voretaq7
    Feb 27, 2014 at 21:56
  • $\begingroup$ If I read it correctly, "Execute missed approach" can only be used as either a) an instruction during a PAR approach, or b) as part of an advisory statement, leaving the decision to the PIC. $\endgroup$
    – falstro
    Feb 27, 2014 at 22:10
  • $\begingroup$ @roe It's possible I'm misinterpreting it, but my understanding is "Execute missed approach" is applicable to all instrument approaches. The distinction for PAR/ASR approaches you execute the missed approach procedure (climb/turn) immediately when told to do so (the assumption being that ATC can no longer provide safe radar guidance), whereas for other types of approaches you would continue inbound to the missed approach point using your onboard navigation equipment, then execute the missed approach procedure from that point. $\endgroup$
    – voretaq7
    Feb 28, 2014 at 3:49

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